Youth prefer e-cigarettes. Help yours resist.

Most people who begin smoking start in their teens or early twenties according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In generations past, burned cigarettes were cool. But as the negative effects of tobacco and nicotine came to light—heart disease, stroke, lung disease, cancer, stillbirth, early death—cigarettes became less appealing.  

Now, cigarettes have been replaced with electronic vaping that creates an aerosol by using a battery to heat up liquid containing nicotine with flavorings and other additives. Initially the companies behind these devices claimed e-cigarettes were created to help cigarette smokers transition to a less harmful version of smoking. 

Although some research suggests that a complete switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes might be less harmful, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and harmful in any form. In fact, one e-cigarette has as much nicotine as 20 regular cigarettes. And some chemicals found in e-liquids are known carcinogens and toxins. The use of any tobacco product is unsafe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Despite claiming their ads only target current cigarette smokers, the Surgeon General reports that e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the United States. Seven in 10 teens are exposed to e-cigarette ads per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The flavoring in e-cigarettes, which the F.D.A. has attempted to ban, is one of their most youth-appealing characteristics.

The consequences of a young adult using nicotine are more severe due to their developing brains. A child’s brain does not stop growing until about age 25. Nicotine changes the way impulse control connections in the brain are formed, and it may increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.   

How do parents protect their kids from the dangers of e-cigarettes and nicotine?

  1. Set a good example. If you do not want your child to use e-cigarettes, or any harmful tobacco product, become tobacco-free. Georgia residents may call the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867). For additional resources, visit smokefree.gov, or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for nationwide help.
  2. Know the facts about youth and e-cigarettes. The developing brains of youth make them more vulnerable to the negative effects of nicotine.
  3. Talk with your child, teen or young adult, about e-cigarettes and the dangers of nicotine and tobacco. Use the CDC’s conversation guide, Talk With Your Teen About E-cigarettes [PDF]. Make it clear that you want them to stay away from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, because they are not safe.
  4. Seek help. Make an appointment with your child’s health care provider so they can hear from a medical professional about how e-cigarettes and all tobacco products harm their health.
  5. Encourage your child to learn the facts and get tips for quitting tobacco products at Teen.smokefree.gov.
  6. Get involved. Speak with your child’s school officials about tobacco-free policies and prevention curriculum.